It was the worst-case scenario — and then some — for Yoenis Cespedes and the Mets with Wednesday’s announcement that the slugger will require separate surgeries on both calcified heels.
The initial timetable for his return is eight to 10 months, but Mets executive John Ricco said it could be longer.
“Nobody would like to have surgery, go through surgery at any time, but I try to do my best to try to stay on the field and play a lot,’’ Cespedes said through his interpreter. “But we exhausted all the conservative options and there was a moment when I was not able to be on the field and play the same way I used to.’’
The Mets sent Ricco, their senior vice president and assistant general manager, to deliver the news along with Cespedes in a news conference at Citi Field before the Mets played the Padres. Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon was in attendance but did not speak.
Ricco explained what was in store for Cespedes, who was awaiting a second opinion from Wisconsin surgeon Robert Anderson on a condition he said he has had for 15 years.
“The diagnosis is he has calcification around the Achilles tendons in both heels as well as bone spurs on each heel and so surgery was recommended,’’ Ricco said.
Anderson will perform the surgeries, Ricco said. He is the same foot and ankle specialist who operated on Derek Jeter’s fractured left ankle in 2012.
No date was given for the first procedure. The second procedure would take place two to three months after the first one. The time frame for Cespedes to return is “a bit speculative at this point,” Ricco said. As for the 8-10 month window he mentioned, Ricco added, “It’s possible it could be longer than that; it probably won’t be shorter than that.”
Cespedes, 32, signed a four-year, $110-million contract after the 2016 season and has appeared in 119 games since. Ricco said the Mets have insurance on Cespedes but would not reveal how much of his salary it would cover. He joins David Wright as the second high-salaried Met to miss significant playing time. “It’s disappointing because those are two superstar players, but it’s our duty to work through that,’’ Ricco said.
A strained hip flexor forced Cespedes to miss 9 ½ weeks this season. He returned last Friday as the designated hitter in Yankee Stadium and homered, but reported stiffness the next day and was sent for an MRI.
“I’ve been playing with this since I was playing in Cuba and I know that the calcification as time goes by, keeps growing and growing,” Cespedes said. “There was a moment when we played the Yankees last weekend that I couldn’t do it anymore.’’
Ricco said doctors believe Cespedes’ heel problems may have been the underlying cause of his myriad of injuries, mainly hip, quad and hamstrings.
“The general consensus is the pain he’s feeling in his heels had definitely contributed to a change in running style,’’ Ricco said, “because he’s trying to avoid what’s causing the pain and that can definitely lead to other lower extremity issues.”
Ricco said doctors have not termed Cespedes’ injury as career threatening, but they offered “no guarantees” it will solve his other issues, “but this is the only option we have at this point.”
Asked to assess the loss of Cespedes for the long term, manager Mickey Callaway said, “Missing a big, impact bat for most of this year and what looks like part of next year is tough because he is so impactful . . . We would manage everything we possibly could to have him in our lineup because we’re a better team and our job is to win games and we haven’t really been doing a lot of that, so we miss him.”
Cespedes’ teammates were told of his impending surgery Tuesday night.
“We definitely want him to be healthy and so anything that takes for him to be healthy I think he should do,’’ Brandon Nimmo said. “He’s trying to get to 100 percent and help out the team. If he’s not able to do that with the current state of things, he should definitely get that fixed and be the very best player he can be.’’
Wilmer Flores added, “It’s tough. You see how hard he works to play to this point. You got to have surgery, you gotta have it, That’s going to be the best way to be healthy. Hopefully, when he comes back, it’s 100 percent.’’
With Owen O’Brien